Monday, November 1, 2010

Hell's Gate Bridge


The bridge marks the beginning of theRogue National Wild and Scenic River corridor and becomes the official Hellgate-Galice Back Country Byway. The Wild Rogue Wilderness is part of the 107 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

Surrounding the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, the rugged and complex canyon landscape of the Wild Rogue Wilderness provides watershed protection for the Wild portion of the river. The area is characterized by steep terrain of near vertical cliffs, razor-sharp ridges and cascading mountain creeks.

The lure of gold in the 1850's attracted a numbers of miners, hunters, stocker raisers and subsistence farmers. Conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans culminated in the 1855-56 Rogue River "Indian War." After their defeat, Native Americans were taken to reservations. For settlers, life in the Rogue Canyon was difficult and isolated. Although extensive gold mining operations took place, overall production was low. The remnants of mining, such as pipe, flumes, trestles, and stamp mills can still be found.

While the Rogue River flows through the core of the Wilderness, legislation specifically directed that it be managed under Wild and Scenic River direction. Because of this, there are some activities and development, such as motorboat use and lodges, which would normally not occur in a wilderness. The Rogue River is nationally known for its salmon and steelhead fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities, both of which require permits.

Along the river you may see deer and otters, or even black bears looking for a meal of salmon. Bears, grown accustomed to easy pickings from boaters, may prove a nuisance in numerous campsites. Birds abound, such as fish eating osprey and great blue heron and lizards hasten over the dry slopes above the water. Ticks and rattlesnakes are often encountered. The river corridor is also excellent habitat for poison oak, whose stems and shiny leaves in groups of three can be a problem throughout the year. Mosquitoes are present during a good part of the season and yellow jackets can be a nuisance during the typically hot, rainless summer days.

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